Thomas Garland of Crystal Springs and Greg Ferrell and John Ainsworth of Hazlehurst are all avid deer hunters, but they won’t hesitate leaving a stand if they get a call.
The Copiah County sportsmen are happiest when they are helping others recover deer that have been wounded but not recovered.
“That’s our hobby, bordering on a passion,” said Garland, who started the Facebook page Southern Track’n and started coordinating the efforts. “We have about 2,600 people following our page.
“Last year, our first one after the page started, we received hundreds of calls and I think we recovered right at 100 deer. We had I think three bucks over 160 inches, but we also had a lot of does. We don’t discriminate. Any deer shot needs to be recovered.”
The trio depends on a team of well-trained dogs to assist in the tracking. Garland and Ainsworth each have one and Ferrell two. They use the latest in GPS collars but also embrace old technology — a bell on the collar.
“I’ve got the latest Garmin unit that allows me to switch to an overhead view (satellite) and I can tell if my dog is in the woods or a big cornfield,” Garland said. “But, I also use the bell around the neck. It works.”
Confident in their dogs, Garland said if they enter a search and don’t recover a wounded deer, “then there’s a 99 percent chance that that deer is not mortally wounded. That’s what I tell the people involved.”
Southern Track’n charges nothing for the services beyond expenses.
“People call us and a lot of them ask us up front how much we charge and we always try to estimate the gas we’ll need to get to them,” Garland said. “And, a lot of them tip, some of them tip a lot, and some don’t, but if they don’t we don’t leave mad because like I said, this is our hobby, not our business.”
Garland urges hunters to recognize the responsibility to recover all deer that have been shot.
“You need to do all you can to either recover the deer, or, in some cases, end its suffering,” he said. “What I’d tell people is that if they don’t find the deer after blood trailing 75 to 100 yards, mark the last blood and back out and call us. If that deer is seriously (mortally) wounded, our dogs will find it. It’s best that we get on it as soon as we can get the dog there.”
To contact Southern Track’n visit the Facebook page or call the following numbers:
Thomas Garland, (601) 327-1061.
Greg Ferrell, (601) 946-9876.
John Ainsworth, (601) 940-3520.